LSU MBB Tops Auburn

LSU men's basketball head coach Will Wade calls out a play Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 during LSU's 104-80 win against Auburn at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on N Stadium Drive in Baton Rouge, La. 

Over the past few months, there has been a new trend of athletes “reclassifying” and heading to college a year early.

What does that entail exactly? To boil it down, the NCAA requires students to have completed 16 core courses in high school with athletes required to maintain a 2.3 GPA and achieve a certain score on SAT or ACT based on their GPA. If they meet those requirements, they can reclassify and begin their college career early. Popular names in the past who reclassified include Karl Anthony-Towns, Jamal Murray, and RJ Barrett.

Reclassifying has been around for a while; however, we are seeing an uptick in activity across multiple NCAA sports. Most notably, five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers headed to Ohio State early and five-star center Emoni Bates is still deciding where to start his career. 

It is widely known that the new Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rules played a large role in Ewers’ deciding to take advantage of a quicker route to college. The highly anticipated QB announced on Twitter at the beginning of August that he was signing his first NIL deal with Texas drink company Holy Beverages. With the arrival of the new NIL rules, the prospect of getting to the money faster will surely intrigue many athletes. As we receive more information on how much money these athletes are making, we expect to see even more athletes reclassify.

If there is an advantage to be found in recruiting, you can be sure that you’ll find LSU at the forefront. Already in a big shuffle year, losing four of five starters to the NBA or transfers, the Tigers added another late name to the roster. Justice Williams is a four-star combo guard out of Montverde Academy in Florida, the same school that produced 2021 first overall pick Cade Cunningham. Williams reclassified and is going to play for LSU in the upcoming season. Will Wade is excited about the addition. 

“We were very excited when Justice committed earlier this summer and we knew there was an opportunity for him to enroll early,” he said. “He is a combo guard who can score at all three levels and has great vision off ball screens. Justice is an extremely hard worker who has been a part of winning teams everywhere he has played. He will be a great fit with our team and program.”

It’s a new piece in the puzzle to add to the backcourt with new point guard Adam Miller, who was just playing for the U-19 World Champion United States team. Earlier this year, Williams talked to Sports Illustrated’s LSU Country, and had this to say about LSU and the coaching staff:

“Coach Wade and Coach Nickelberry just made me feel at home as well as my family,” he said. “We all just connected. In terms of playing in their system, they have a great playstyle with a lot of ball screens and isolation plays as well. Mainly an NBA system which is what I want to get ready for, so it made sense to me.” 

Williams said that before he decided to reclassify, and now, looking back on it, he wants the advantage of spending as much time in an NBA-style offense as he can. If this journey works out, we could see other athletes take advantage of this opportunity.

The illusion of amateurism in the NCAA is slipping away with super conferences, alliances, the NIL rules and more. The rise of reclassification seems to be another part of the movement. The effect of this new era of college sports will have a lot of people looking at the NCAA path in a whole new light. As more schools and companies preach this approach to its athletes and recruits, you can be sure that LSU will be very active in taking advantage of this opportunity.

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